- Posted By: Pamela Kan-Rice
- Written by: Pam Kan-Rice, (530) 754-3912, email@example.com
The discussions were held in the five counties adjacent to the Delta -- Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo. The Community Water Conversations Project aimed to provide community members with an opportunity to discuss and learn about water policy options in the state in a facilitated, non-threatening and positive environment.
The project was launched to provide Delta residents with an opportunity to discuss water issues in-depth and share their knowledge with one another, said Shelley Murdock, UC Cooperative Extension community development advisor and director for Contra Costa County, who organized the project with Carole Paterson, who was UC Cooperative Extension community development advisor for Solano County until her recent retirement.
“Residents told us that many events were held in which experts and policymakers provided their points of view, but they didn’t seem to absorb the public’s perspective,” Murdock said. “We wanted to give the residents a forum in which to be heard.”
Many participants expressed dissatisfaction with the current water allocation process and proposals to resolve water issues.
“The farther away you get from local knowledge the worse the decisions are,” one participant said.
A recurring sentiment expressed in the meetings was that power and money drive decisions about water policy. Another participant said, “Decisions are not made on science, always on politics.”
“The residents showed a high-level of knowledge about the Delta and its ecosystem, but expressed skepticism that policymakers would listen to their views,” said Jodi Cassell, UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor.
“Based on these conversations, we think that water agencies and managers should consider new models for public participation that provide community members with opportunities to share their knowledge, views and values regarding natural resources,” she said. “Through models like the Conversations Program, agencies and communities can exchange information and ideas, creating the potential for more innovative approaches to management.”
Participants said they would like to see more public education about water, including its use, reuse and conservation.
“Education is the key, for personal choices and for public policy,” said a resident. “Too many people are unaware.”
The UC Cooperative Extension team analyzed detailed notes to assess common themes among the suggestions made during the conversations. The researchers plan to share the views with policymakers and other stakeholders to increase their awareness and understanding. To summarize their findings, they produced a short report and a 13-minute video containing some of the comments made at the meetings. They can be viewed at http://ucanr.org/sites/CAH2OConversations. At this website, visitors can comment on the project, report and video.
The 10 water conversations were held in libraries in Martinez, Suisun City, Moraga, Oakley, Elk Grove, Stockton, Walnut Grove and West Sacramento between May and August of 2010 and were attended by 128 area residents. University of California Cooperative Extension cohosted the meetings with non?partisan organizations California Center for the Book, the Water Education Foundation, the California State Library, and California National Issues Forums network.
- Posted By: Jeannette E. Warnert
- Written by: Ann Brody Guy, (510) 643-1041, firstname.lastname@example.org
The donation was approved at a meeting of the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, a private foundation that was established in 2004 as part of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) bankruptcy settlement to ensure that over 140,000 acres of California's pristine watershed lands are conserved for the public good and to serve California's young people.
“This four-and-half-thousand acres is a tiny portion of the total PG&E lands, but it’s an enormous boon to UC’s research and outreach capabilities,” said J. Keith Gilless, a professor of forestry and dean of the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources, which houses the UC Center for Forestry.
The UC proposal focused on learning how California’s working forests in key watersheds can be managed to sustainably provide essential ecosystem and climate benefits over the next century.
The new lands will enable researchers to:
- Learn how different components of forest ecosystems will respond to climate change, increasing fire risks, and invasive species;
- Use and measure a range of forest-management approaches, including reserves, to better understand all the forest ecosystem components;
- Broaden outreach to K-12, community college and university students; researchers; and the public.
“The University’s goal is to harvest knowledge, not timber,” Gilless said.
UC’s proposal received widespread support from the research community, including Yale University, Cornell University, Oregon State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of British Columbia.
John Battles, a professor of forest ecology at UC Berkeley, said that UC shares the goals expressed in many public comments, which stressed the value of intact forests, tall trees and wildlife habitats. But Battles also noted the importance of research.
“Conservation in this era of change is confronted by the reality that no ecosystem, no matter how remote or wild, is protected. We want to be proactive by learning how to build resilient forests under a changing and stressful climate,” he said.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the Stewardship Council board of directors also approved a donation of 7,016 acres to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Calfire) for a new state demonstration forest that will be located adjacent to the new UC forest parcel near the Pit River in Shasta County. The Stewardship Council also discussed funding a shared research and outreach facility that would be shared by the two public entities.
Together, the UC and Calfire donations significantly expand the existing research and demonstration state forests owned and operated by state entities and will complement the forest research currently conducted on US Forest Service and National Park Service lands.
“The addition of new forest types and locations broadens the ability of UC Center for Forestry to collaborate with a range of public and private forest owners to conduct critical research and education on forestry management, climate change and other issues affecting the Sierra and Cascade ranges,” Gilless said.
The donation comprises two locations: 3,100 acres near the Pit River in Shasta County, on the west side of the Pit-McCloud watershed, and 1,484 acres in the Lake Spaulding area in Nevada County, near the top of the Yuba-Bear River watershed. Before this donation, the UC Center for Forestry held 5,131 acres over four research sites in Contra Costa County, Plumas, Tulare and El Dorado counties.
Due to land survey work and the California Public Utilities Commission's detailed land-transfer process, the Stewardship Council estimates that UC will take possession of the new lands in approximately one year.
Related story: New Report Highlights Carbon Benefits of Forests
John Battles, Professor of Forest Ecology, UC Berkeley, (510) 643-0684
J. Keith Gilless, Dean, UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources; Professor of Forestry, UC Berkeley, (510) 642-7171
Bill Stewart, Director, UC Center for Forestry; Cooperative Extension Forest Management Specialist, (510) 643-3130, (510) 318-0377 (cell)
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
“This is an interesting year for forages to say the least,” said Dan Putnam, University of California Cooperative Extension alfalfa specialist and conference chair. “Hay prices are at record high levels in many states, and dairies have found it difficult going as a result. Costs have gone up considerably for hay producers and dairy producers alike.”
The conference is broken into half-day sessions with presentations by a diverse array of speakers, including farmers, Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists, and representatives from commodity groups and industry. The sessions are:
- Hay industry trends
- Irrigation and soils
- Producing quality forages for different markets
- GMOs and Roundup Ready Alfalfa
- Biofuels in the West
“This is a terrific opportunity to learn more about forages, to meet industry members, other farmers and pest control advisers,” Putnam said.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is scheduled to present the keynote address at the Tuesday, Dec. 13, banquet.
Early registration for Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference closes Friday, Nov. 18
Early registration for the Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference has been extended to Nov. 18. The cost for early registration is $165; general registration after Nov. 18 is $195. Walk-up registration is $225. There is a separate registration fee of $55 for the Dec. 13 afternoon biofuels workshop and Vilsack presentation.
Online conference registration, the complete conference agenda, and lodging and exhibit information are available at the conference website, http://ucanr.org/sites/Alfalfa_Forages. The pre-symposium field tour on Dec. 11 is sold out.
For more information, contact Sherry Cooper at (530) 752-1581 or email@example.com.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
While California's San Joaquin Valley is home to some of the nation's richest agricultural resources, half of the people who live and work there face elevated levels of air and water pollution coupled with poverty, limited education, language barriers, and racial and ethnic segregation, according to a three-year UC Davis study.
The study, "Land of Risk/Land of Opportunity," also found that residents of the region report more environmental hazards than are currently documented or addressed by state agencies.
"Our conclusion is that immediate and comprehensive action is needed by local, regional and state policymakers to protect the health and well-being of the region's most vulnerable residents," said study leader Jonathan London, director of the UC Davis Center for Regional Change and an assistant professor of human and community development.
The study was conducted in partnership with the San Joaquin Valley Cumulative Health Impact Project, a community-university partnership with environmental health and social justice organizations in the San Joaquin Valley. This work is consistent with UC Davis' goals of seeking knowledge and solutions that sustain and improve quality of life for people in neighboring regions and around the world.
The study uses a new measure developed by scholars on this project, but drawn from methods used by other researchers -- the Cumulative Environmental Vulnerability Assessment -- to identify the locations and populations within the San Joaquin Valley that are at greatest risk.
According to that measure, 51 percent of San Joaquin Valley residents experience high cumulative environmental vulnerability, with more than half of those experiencing acute cumulative vulnerability.
Home to 4 million people, the San Joaquin Valley spans 300 miles through the center of the state. The region is a major transportation artery connecting northern and southern California and contains three of what the U.S. Department of Agriculture designates the nation's top-producing agricultural counties -- Fresno, Kern and Tulare.
The report found:
* The cumulative dangers were not evenly distributed across the region. Some of the communities facing the greatest levels of acute vulnerability include west Fresno, Monterey Park, Kettleman City, Matheny Tract, Earlimart and Wasco.
* Environmental and social vulnerability among at-risk populations persist, despite special attention from regulators and policymakers.
* Those with limited education and English fluency face difficulties advocating on their own behalf.
"With this report, we finally have the data that can lead to collaboration and action," said Kevin Hamilton, deputy chief of programs at Clinica Sierra Vista and a member of the San Joaquin Valley Cumulative Health Impact Project. "It's obvious to all that there are health and other disparities, but there's been a lack of data available to help communities, businesses and government collaborate to take next steps."
The report recommends that analysis of cumulative effects uncovered in the study be integrated into existing policy and planning frameworks in the region, and that special attention be focused on higher-risk areas.
"With one in two residents at elevated risk and one in three at extreme risk, now is the time to solve big problems by looking at the big picture. Without broad discussion and creative solutions, the San Joaquin Valley, especially its children, can't reach its full potential," said Sarah Sharpe, of Fresno Metro Ministry, who coordinates the San Joaquin Valley Cumulative Health Impacts Project.
"This report provides policymakers, government agency leaders, and community activists a tool to measure the cumulative impacts on Valley residents and a road map to prioritizing solutions to these problems."
The study was supported by funding from the Ford Foundation, the UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Community Forestry and Environmental Resource Partnerships graduate fellowship.
The report is available at http://regionalchange.ucdavis.edu/projects/current/ceva-sjv.
Edit Ruano, Full Court Press Communications, (510) 550-8176, firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Nikos, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-6101, email@example.com
- Posted By: Sandra Willard
- Written by: Ann Filmer, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-6788; firstname.lastname@example.org
With a global population that now tallies 7 billion, scientists and thought leaders worldwide are resolutely determining how to sustainably feed the additional 2 billion people who are expected to arrive in the next 40 years, while maintaining environmental quality and human nutrition and well-being.
“We are facing challenging times,” said Aalt Dijkhuizen, president and chairman of Wageningen UR. “We have to increase food production while decreasing the environmental footprint. That is a major global challenge.”
“This partnership will allow two of the best institutions in the world to address the challenges of environmental quality and food production,” added Neal Van Alfen, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Together we will form worldwide networks with other universities, government institutions and especially with businesses that can implement new research technologies. We will develop solutions that really have an impact.”
In addition to Van Alfen, UC Davis and California were represented at the signing by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Dijkhuizen was joined by Secretary-General Chris Buijink of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, and Netherlands Consul General Bart van Bolhuis to represent Wageningen UR and the Netherlands.
“This partnership will bring lead scientists, businesses and government partners together to provide science-based answers, innovations and sound policy that benefit the public,” Katehi said. She stressed the need for scientists to help develop public policy.
Dijkhuizen noted that this “golden triangle” of private industry, government and university research institutions is an effective way to implement scientific technologies and innovations.
The CDFA secretary and Netherlands secretary-general highlighted the need for government in this partnership. Ross stressed the agricultural production and nutrition components of the agreement, and how they will benefit the health and well-being of general consumers, while assuring a strong agricultural future in California. Buijink said that job growth, which benefits everyone, will be a critical outcome of extending the research information and technologies to business partners in food-production, agricultural and environmental industries.
Water is a major issue related to food production and environmental quality, not only in the U.S. and the Netherlands but throughout the world and especially in developing areas. The consul general said that water issues will be at the forefront of research between the institutions.
“Research that addresses water-saving technologies in agriculture will help create new irrigation and water-storage innovations that benefit farmers, consumers and everyone who has a stake in water issues,” said van Bolhuis.
This agreement between UC Davis and Wageningen UR will address the pressing global issues of population growth, food security and environmental sustainability through research on efficient production and postharvest technologies, reduced energy and environmental inputs, and scientific breakthroughs in areas such as genomics, biotechnology and new biofuels.
The agreement will also establish scholarly exchange programs for students and postdoctoral scholars between the two universities in order to expand knowledge of global issues and technologies related to food, agriculture and the environment. The courses and workshops will provide leadership opportunities for students and postdocs who will go on to become scientists, decision makers and leaders in businesses, government, universities and other organizations.